Your individual expertise can be an extremely powerful and effective marketing resource. As you find ways to expose your expertise in public venues, it can be used to build your credibility and reputation as an industry thought leader. Credibility builds trust, and trust is an essential motivator at the core of all business relationships. It translates into drawing in new prospects for your firm and building your personal brand.
We call this approach of using your expertise to build public credibility, reputation, and trust “Expertise Marketing.” Since the dawn of the television age, large corporations and professional firms have used Expertise Marketing to publicly expose their leaders and experts in ways that complemented their advertising initiatives. Using an army of marketing and public relations specialists in the background, these organizations found ways to co-opt the public awareness reach of established major media. They used venues such as television interviews, public speaking engagements, and newspaper editorials to place their principles in positions where they could promote scripted marketing messaging.
Jay Conrad Levinson (1933-2013)
In 1984, ad agency executive Jay Conrad Levinson’s book Guerilla Marketing showed how small entities and individuals could use unconventional limited-budget approaches to cost-effectively promote their own products and services. Levinson suggested using imaginative and non-traditional techniques to establish direct contact and interaction with prospects, customers, and influencers. Moreover, he outlined minimal-resource ways to create emotional connections with people that would cause them to remember an entity’s or individual’s brand.
Since the emergence of the commercial Internet in the 1990s, the possibilities to conduct Expertise Marketing and leverage Guerilla Marketing techniques in the process are seemingly endless. This no doubt leads those reading this article to two critical questions:
- Why might I want to use Expertise Marketing?
- What approaches should I use to achieve the best results and avoid being counterproductive with an Expertise Marketing effort?
We’ll address those two questions in the remainder of this article.
Why Focus on Expertise Marketing?
Why would it make sense for you to develop a focus on Expertise Marketing yourself?
If you are a professional services expert, such as a consultant, attorney, accountant, financial advisor, or other services professional, you have little time to waste. By providing samplings of your expertise through presentations, video interviews, and writings, you can create unique moments of credibility and trust in the hearts and minds of potential clients and with key influencers in your target markets. And that proves to be a highly effective business lead generation engine.
As a corporate executive, you possess a personal professional brand that has become increasingly important. The quality and extent of your expert reputation makes you more valuable to your company. And today, a strong industry reputation on a personal level is essential, given that you’ll likely master numerous career roles and work at several different companies throughout your professional life. Speaking engagements and published thought leadership articles are important keys to building a distinguished individual brand identity.
As an entrepreneur, you not only are the leader of your company but also serve as the face of your organization’s identity. Your customers, employees, and investors look to you to provide a vision forward, generate opportunities, and focus your company’s culture. In addition to these factors, increasing the value of your firm depends on effectively and rapidly building brand reputation and awareness and on generating product and services sales. Keynotes, published articles, and interviews from a founder can have an incredible impact on moving a venture successfully to the next stage of its development.
Getting the Most from Your Time and Resources
If you lead a small entity or are focused on building your personal brand, the task of optimizing your Expertise Marketing efforts will fall on your shoulders. The Guerrilla Marketing techniques that we touched on at the beginning of this article can help you accomplish a great deal with a small budget. But to be successful with Expertise Marketing, you must commit to investing your personal time (however, hiring the right professional resources to assist you can offload a significant part of this time commitment.)
The quality of each aspect of your Expertise Marketing program will be far more important than will the quantity of your initiatives.
For example, if you have a website that is dedicated to your firm or to you individually, every word and element in that website must be blemish free and pristine. And it must be kept current. A personal or company website that hasn’t obviously been touched for years or is error ridden presents the same kind of impression that a tired and maintenance-neglected lobby would for someone visiting your physical offices. The result is that a single aspect of an Expertise Marketing effort that fails to measure up will be counterproductive and detract from the personal brand image you are so carefully focused on building elsewhere.
How do you emphasize what to focus on for your Expertise Marketing program? Your decisions must be continually optimized against three foundational legs of the stool that will support your success:
- Your specific expertise, business strategy, and individual goals,
- The unique mindset and preferences of your customers, prospects, and influencers, and
- The specific capabilities, limits, costs, and required time commitments for each of the options available to you to expose your expertise to your customers, prospects, and influencers—both “old-school” traditional and technology based.
When it comes to expertise-led reputation building, all roads don’t lead through the Web. We are bombarded daily with the marketing drumbeat of technologists’ extolling the virtues of every next greatest Internet thing. Yet depending on your specific target markets’ characteristics and preferences, traditional non-Web methods of finding new clients and engaging with your customers can be even more effective than using the Internet. For example, getting up in front of a live audience and presenting a keynote speech continues to be an excellent way to connect with new prospects.
There are no cookie-cutter answers. Reputation building entails distinguishing and differentiating yourself from the pack as an individual. It’s necessitates understanding and highlighting what makes you unique. It’s includes paying attention to every facet of your professional presence that may affect the market’s perception of you and your organization. It’s about your specific business, your specific customers and target prospects, and your specific expertise. The optimal approach to Expertise Marketing for you will be a unique mix of ways to expose yourself to the market that is customized for your particular situation.
Don’t allow yourself to discount Web-based Expertise Marketing solutions that are outside of your comfort zone either. If you don’t “get” the Internet yet, engage a resource that can help you master its use. If you fail to take advantage of all the Internet has to offer to advance your business or career, you are putting yourself at a nearly insurmountable competitive disadvantage. But you need to be careful to ensure that what you do implement online supports rather than destroys your personal brand and market reputation.
About the author
Ted Bream is the Managing Director of Core Agenda Inc, which specializes in providing sophisticated, multi-channel, customer interactive marketing & digital competitive leverage to small & medium businesses. Prior to his current tenure, Ted held executive roles at IBM, Scient and Gartner and had been the founder of several startups. Over the past decade he has been a consultant and catalyst for hundreds of professional services firms and businesses. Core Compass is an expert insights Web resource that enables our audience to more effectively participate in resolving their core concerns with the professionals that they engage. Ted can be contacted by phone at (844) 416-4456.